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paul ulrich

Jonah Field Executive: Resumption Of Oil, Gas Leasing ‘Promising’

in Energy/News
Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images
18931

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The end to a moratorium on oil and gas lease sales on federal land is “promising,” even though the amount of land to be leased has been significantly reduced from original proposals, a vice president of Jonah Energy told Cowboy State Daily.

Paul Ulrich, in a position different from those taken by other industry and government officials, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday although the federal government has severely cut the amount of land available to lease for oil and gas production, the fact that the sales will resume again is a good start.

“We all should be pleased that we’re seeing some leases,” he said. “We should be pleased we’re seeing some proactive movement from this administration.”

Other officials in Wyoming have not been so enthusiastic about the lease sale to be held in June, noting only 144,000 acres will be made available nationally by the Interior Department for oil and gas drilling — an 80% reduction of land that had been under evaluation for leasing. Most of that land — 132,000 acres — will be available for lease in Wyoming.

The BLM assessed 733,000 acres of potential drilling sites in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming before approving the 144,000 acres for lease sale.

In addition to the reduction in available land, the royalty rate on oil and gas produced from federal land will increase from 12.5% to 18.75%.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming was much harsher than Ulrich in its thoughts about the reduced land available for lease and the higher royalties, saying the administration of President Joe Biden was making energy production much more expensive in a time when inflation and high gas prices are dominating the country.

“President Biden knows this isn’t the energy policy Americans want,” PAW said this week. “Otherwise he would be trumpeting these announcements himself rather than having his Secretary of Interior release a statement late in the afternoon on a holiday weekend when no one is paying attention.”

Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso both criticized the limits on oil and gas leases, with Barrasso pointing specifically at Biden’s call for increased oil and gas production in the face of rising petroleum prices.

“After begging American oil and natural gas companies for months to produce more, the Biden administration is still doing all it can to restrict leasing on federal lands,” Barrasso said. “First it was an illegal moratorium imposed at the start of his presidency. Now it’s this proposal to dramatically increase the cost of onshore leases while cutting the acres offered for lease by 80 percent. The president claims he’s doing nothing to limit domestic production, but once again his administration is making American energy more expensive and harder to produce.”

But Ulrich said the simple act of resuming oil and gas lease sales shows the Biden administration understands that public lands can play a “very” critical role in providing a nation’s energy resources.

“I’m also hopeful that this administration recognizes that Wyoming, in particular, can provide some of the cleanest energy in the country, if not the world,” he said. “Operators and Wyoming state agencies, especially the Department of Environmental Quality, have done an outstanding job in reducing our overall methane impacts through both regulatory and voluntary efforts.”

The sale inventory was welcomed by the Powder River Basin Resource Council, which said it appreciated the U.S. Interior Department’s efforts to adjust the program and that the agency was finally beginning to modernize policies of “great importance” to the nation’s economic and social future.

“It’s high time to halt the underpriced giveaway of federal lands and mineral resources and reframe leasing to better serve American taxpayers, state treasuries, public land users, and the millions of citizens suffering accelerating harm from climate change,” the organization said. “For years we have advocated that federal royalty rates should be raised to more closely match those charged by private landowners, and are glad Interior has finally done so after a century of stagnation.

“The energy world is changing, and time is running out to support states and communities that have nurtured the oil and gas industry for decades. Increased royalty rates will help ensure they get their due before the inevitable decline,” PBRC continued.

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Paul Ulrich: For Outdoorspeople, April Is The Cruelest Month

in Paul Ulrich/Column
18715

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By Paul Ulrich, columnist

Ice is breaking up on our lakes and rivers, the snow is slowly melting, and all signs point to spring.  By all accounts this is a good sign.  Months of frost-bitten, miserable sub-zero weather has given way to songbirds and hope. 

Hope that we can fire up the grill without 17 layers of clothes.  Hope that cabin fever fades to intermittent bouts of the brown bottle flu around a campfire. 

For me, the hope of fly fishing without breaking ice off my line and dressing like the snowsuit kid in A Christmas Story.

April is the shepherd for spring, right?  No, wrong. 

April is Lucy to Charlie Brown.  Better yet, April is Will Smith to Chris Rock.  Cruel, taunting and designed to make us all look like fools for an entire month. 

Meet April greeting Spring.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svRpduRStrY

Why my extreme bitterness for April?

Let us start with the obvious.  The wind or the Nebraska suck, which is the primary reason for insanity in Wyoming.  In Casper it never stops, which explains a lot, but the rest of us do get a break.  Except in April. 

Here in Pinedale, we apparently made a deal with the devil to trade the wind for arctic adjacent temperatures the rest of the year but whoever signed that contract didn’t read the fine print regarding April and here we are.   Colder than Zoolander’s Blue Steel AND windy. 

Mud also makes its arrival.  Glorious spring mud that renders vehicles useless over 20 MPH and tends to freeze requiring a jackhammer to remove along with most of the paint. 

You can’t take a walk in the hills without risk of losing your boots, dogs, or both.  And most importantly you must get a part-time job to pay for car washes.  Only in Wyoming, even in today’s gas prices, do you spend more at the car wash than gas station. 

The weather variation is the last straw.  60 and sunny to below-freezing to snow, hail, and rain and back again.  How to you pack for this?  There are the frog, locust, lice, and boil plagues (probably).  Finally, the maddening anticipation of when.  When is the true, first good day to enjoy our great outdoors? 

Don’t get me wrong, April has its moments.  My cousin JD hosts the world-famous PEEP eating contest on the 10th.  He is typically the only contestant but has stringed together an impressive 7-year winning streak. 

For those of you interested the record stands at 237.  Even more impressive is that every passing year his demeanor and general appearance more resembles a PEEP and that is awesome.

My son and I were both born in April, thanks Mom!  Easter is typically in April and one of my favorite holidays.  Hard to beat baked ham, scalloped potatoes and deviled eggs. Easter is also a beautiful holiday for family gatherings.  Unless you are driving a light, high profile vehicle the roads are finally passable.

April also has some awesome people named after it.  April Brimmer Kunz for example.  Former State Senator and Wyoming’s first female president of the Wyoming Senate. April was an outstanding leader and legislator and she is an even more remarkable person. 

So how do I reconcile the cruelty that wind, mud and April weather brings with peep-eating contests, birthdays and awesome people?  Probably what you do, simply suffer through it and keep up the hope.  I clearly suffer through with ample complaining but in truth enjoy the time to prepare. 

Like you, I do get out as much as I can this month and it’s an excellent time to make sure gear is in shape.  A great time to organize the garage, clean out the camper, prep the boat, re-arrange your fly or lure boxes, tune up the bikes and start making lists of weekend trips.  Hit up your local outdoor shop for what you need and more importantly what you don’t but can’t wait to try.

Cheers, to the Month of May.  (For my May column please see above and simply replace April with May.)

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Paul Ulrich: Spring Camping In Wyoming — Remember Not To Be An Idiot

in Paul Ulrich/Column
17877

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By Paul Ulrich, columnist

This time of year is tough in Wyoming.  Early March brings the hope of spring yet Mother Nature gave us the spring of deception last week and is doing her best Typhoid Mary impression and infected me with high grade cabin fever.  

Several inches of snow have fallen in the past day and more coming as I stare out the window and daydream of pulling my camper to the Wyoming Range for a weekend of fishing, hiking, campfires and solitude. 

My love of the outdoors started with camping.  My family spent our summers camping in the Shoshone National Forest and fall in hunting camps from the Hams Fork to Francs Fork. 

Our Summer trips consisted of fishing and floating the river, exploring the mountains, great dutch oven cooking and gathering around the campfire in the evenings.  I later learned that we camped all the time because we didn’t have enough money for vacations. 

I can tell you that my little sister and I would not have traded a day in mountains for Disneyland.  We loved it, still do, and didn’t know the difference growing up.  I am not sure that’s going to change either.  My older sister and I constantly discuss taking trips only to conclude that we just need more time in the mountains.

That’s what the mountains of Wyoming do.  They embrace you like a favorite blanket with the promise of never letting go.  They whisper in the wind and water that you are home and belong.  They create the very best memories that for some reason never fade with time.

The memories, oh the memories and lessons learned. 

Camping As A Kid

My favorite early memories are with my little sister.  We hiked and climbed trees, we rolled down hills in inner tubes and then hauled them to the river to float.  We were covered in dirt and mud most the time but didn’t care.  We spent endless hours watching moose, deer, elk and the occasional bear. 

As I grew a bit older I started camping on my own.  I was fortunate to have a family that values independence and I was allowed to venture out at a pretty early age.  Years before I could drive I would get dropped off in the mountains by myself or with a friend with a rendezvous in a few days.  That’s where the hard lessons were learned.  I didn’t always respect the power of mother nature, wasn’t always prepared and I certainly was an idiot at times.

An early spring tent camping trip with a friend outside of Cody taught me to always, I mean always, respect the weather.  Gear spread all over our campsite and not secured or properly stored sets the stage.  A foot and a half of snow overnight and two oblivious kids waking up to everything buried came next. 

Clearly this is well before cell phones and imagine two cold, wet and hungry kids miles from help.  We couldn’t start a fire, find our food and panic was setting in.  Thank the heavens my dad recognized the situation, and probably our idiocy, and arrived a day early to dig us out and get us home.

A year or so later, seemingly better prepared, we were camping in the Big Horn basin mid-summer.  Again, we were dropped off with our gear and off we went.  A great trip with a rattlesnake encounter, arrowhead hunting and beautiful warm weather. 

In fact, so warm that we poured through our water supply two days before we were set to get picked up.  The only water source within miles was a cow pond.  Now I carry a water filtration system. I did not then. How we survived drinking water the color of chocolate milk with the taste of cow pies I have no idea. 

Don’t Be An Idiot

One of the hardest lessons I learned came at the wise age of 14.  By then I am sure I felt bulletproof and had all the outdoor experience one could ever gain.  This lesson is categorized under “Don’t be an idiot”.

My friend DR and I planned a multi-day trip West of Meeteetse in one of my favorite drainages.  Pretty isolated area with good water and great hiking.  We were prepared for anything.  Day two brought a beautiful and sunny day with naught a cloud in the sky.  What should two 14 year-old boys in the middle of nowhere do with themselves?   The only possible answer was catch some rays and work on that all important tan. 

Yes, two idiots felt that stripping down, completely, was somehow a good idea.  Image these two strutting back to Cody looking like David Hasselhoff.  Reality was much, much different.  After two hours of baking parts of us that has never seen the sun reality hit. 

We accomplished something few have.  Deep fried Rocky Mountain Oysters and a remarkable bright red hue that could probably be seen from space.  As prepared as I thought I was sunscreen was not in my pack, naturally.  At this point the only option to relieve the pain was to cover ourselves in mud. 

This is not the kind of mud you would find at a spa in Jackson.  This is the kind that seeps into every pore, never washes off and smells like everything that ever died.  But it worked, kind of. 

In addition to an unusually hard lesson on not being an idiot and preparation it did lead to an encounter that may well have haunted someone forever.  Our entire trip we saw only one other person.  Here we are covered head to toe in mud after a hike to a two-track near our camp. 

A Game Warden comes around the corner and spots us.  He drives by slowly with an intent stare of bewilderment and perhaps fear.  Are they human? Has society crumbled and I walked into a Lord of the Flies situation?  He never stopped nor should he have but I always wonder what he was thinking.    

Graduated To A Camper

Today we have graduated to a camper and yearn for new trips and new adventures either alone or with our family.  The peace my wife and I enjoy on our getaways is priceless.  I absolutely love sharing my favorite spots in Wyoming with my family and creating some great memories. 

Passing down tips and lessons is also part of it and highly rewarding. 

Take a large family camping trip last summer where we got to share a first-hand lesson on burying your waste.  Sadly, this is becoming a problem in the backcountry and near developed campsites. 

After establishing a campsite for five families and a dozen kids near Laramie we discovered the surprises our neighbors with green license plates (safe assumption but an assumption none the less) left us. 

Our dogs immediately began the worse Easter egg hunt ever and discovered no less than a dozen gifts of unburied waste.  To support my claim of the origin of the gifts is the assumed composition. 

I reason that the combination of cannabis, granola and IPA craft beer must be like crack to dogs.  We buried, talked to the kids about burying and share that story as much as possible in hopes that others will respect Mother Nature.

Out of all the outdoor activities we enjoy camping is often the foundation, the launch.  Preparing and setting up a good camp is, in itself, rewarding from backpacking to a multi-family outing.  It sets the stage for the promise of solitude, exploration or simply quality time with family and friends.  

Camping also allows for some of the elements we cherish so much in Wyoming such as stewardship, self reliance and learning through failure.  Some of my most cherished memories are camping with my son and passing on what I was taught.  Grab your kids, your family and friends and get out there. 

I still love it all and after a lifetime of hard lessons and a lot of great advice the rules of camping for me are pretty simple.  Be prepared, be respectful and don’t be an idiot.

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Paul Ulrich: What I Love About Wyoming

in Column
16591

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By Paul Ulrich, columnist

Last August at a family camping trip at Pole Mountain outside of Laramie I took my niece on a trail ride in our side-by-side.  As we rocked through the trees and prairie trails targeting large mud holes my 4-year old niece yelled “Wyoming is the Greatest” over and over between spitting mud (and probably cow dung) out of her mouth.

Her exclamations stuck with me.  I ponder often her pure and fearless joy and love of Wyoming.  I agree wholeheartedly with her that Wyoming is the greatest.  The question I come back to is why?

Our unrivaled hunting and fishing, endless hiking and biking trails, camping, skiing, snowmobiling, rock climbing and kayaking opportunities are great.  To name a few.

We can also look to our unique and rich cultural and wildlife heritage for greatness.  Our Native American and ranching heritage is something we all take immense pride in.  Our wildlife and fossil resources I marvel at each and every day. 

So, back to the question of why I think Wyoming is the greatest.  To find my answer to this question I looked to the soul of Wyoming and the values we hold dearest.  I sought examples and boy did I find them.

I was visiting my Grandmother in the nursing home in Kemmerer this past fall and witnessed a great example of love and dedication.  A retired gentleman was visiting his wife, a resident of the nursing home. 

After we all shared a few words and inevitably made the “Wyoming” connection he pulled out an old Walkman with two headphones and he and his wife spent the rest of the time listening to gospel music and teachings together.

The moment touched me and I had to ask one of the amazing nurses the story.  His wife had been a resident for several years and every single day he visited for hours, listening to music and simply sharing time.  Let that sink in.  Each and every day for years.   

My more recent example we are all very familiar with.  The story of an adopted son of Wyoming that demonstrates to us, perhaps the country, a fine example of perseverance and toughness.  No college scholarships out of High School, Junior College, one, I repeat, one Division 1 college offer (Wyoming obviously) and every idiot talking head saying he wasn’t good enough to play, let alone succeed in the NFL. 

A lot of crow is being eaten these days and we sure are proud to call Josh Allen one of our own.  His perseverance, toughness and humility are Wyoming.

The words courage and bravery tend to be overused and over applied.  The mental and moral strength to truly resist hardship let alone insurmountable pain and agony is rare and labeling someone courageous and brave need to be equally as rare.  When we are witness to a truly courageous person we need to shine the light, take note and perhaps in a small way grow ourselves. 

Such is the case with Triton Fritz of Hudson, Wyoming and his family.  11-year old Triton was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 6.  He recently went on hospice care and his body can’t fight anymore.  The courage of Triton to fight for so many years against all odds and the courage of his family to share his story and their pain is remarkable. 

Not only has Triton fought like hell with a smile on his face, he went ahead and memorialized his story in a book to help other children and families that might follow.  That’s courage, that’s bravery and that is why Triton & his family will always go down in my book as the finest of both. 

Our values, who we are, are the fabric and foundation of Wyoming.  There are certainly more than I exhibited and I look forward to hearing your examples. 

Triton, Josh and the beautiful couple from Kemmerer are a few of my favorites that demonstrate why I think Wyoming is the greatest.  Quite simply, our people. 

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